COTTAGE GROVE, Minn.-Customer complaints led to criminal charges Tuesday for a 31-year-old Minnesota man accused of bilking the elderly out of snow-removal payments in Minnesota, Wisconsin and seven other states.
The Wisconsin justice department on Tuesday, May 8, announced five theft charges - two felonies and three misdemeanors - against Matthew D. Erickson, the owner of Snow Angels LLC.
Erickson, who ran an unsuccessful 2016 GOP bid for Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, was being held in Hennepin County jail Wednesday without bail while awaiting extradition to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel alleges Erickson contracted snow removal jobs for 111 customers and never completed the work. The attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case, noted that many of Erickson's customers were older than 60.
Prosecutors said Erickson owes his victims more than $50,000.
Allegations against Erickson first came to light in March when the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about Snow Angels and its allegedly unfulfilled services.
According to complaint, a woman acting as power of attorney for her 92-year-old father reported Erickson to Elm Grove, Wisconsin, police after she paid the company $625 for a full season of snow removal that never took place. Attempts by the woman to contact Snow Angels went to inactive telephone numbers and an email address that didn't respond.
The complainant turned to the Better Business Bureau, which had a number on file for Snow Angels. That number connected with a woman in Florida who said she, too, had contracted with the company for snow removal at her mother's home in Milwaukee, according to the complaint.
The reports led to a Better Business Bureau investigation that turned up "a large scale, nationwide criminal theft scheme" perpetrated by Erickson, the complaint states.
The charging document states Erickson launched the business in September 2017, with an Eden Prairie, Minnesota, address. He registered it with a U.S. Postal Service PO box in his Wisconsin filing, the complaint states, which goes on to note PO boxes were used in other states, as well.
The complaint states Erickson sold the services last fall, took fees in varying amounts "and never performed services in Wisconsin," the charging document states. Seventeen of the Wisconsin victims were elderly, which prosecutors said enhances the theft charges in those cases.
The other states where consumers reported incidents were Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New York and Rhode Island
Authorities said anyone else with information about Erickson or Snow Angels can call Wisconsin Department of Justice consumer protection investigators at 608-266-8063.